Monash journalism student wins prestigious award

MONASH University Master of Journalism student Jenan Taylor has won the Melbourne Press Club’s 2014 Student Journalist of the Year Award.

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Jenan Taylor with her Quill award

Taylor’s article A Quiet Farewell – published in The Weekend Australian Magazine – describes a pauper’s funeral in Oakleigh.

Taylor said she was overwhelmed that all her hard work had paid off with this award.

“So much of this achievement has had to do with the skills I’ve been taught and the guidance I’ve received from all my journalism lecturers here at Monash over the years, and I’m particularly grateful to [Head of Journalism] Philip Chubb and [lecturer] Monica Jackson for their encouragement,” she said.

“I have a long way to go and a lot to learn yet, but I think that’s an on-going part and parcel of any journalist’s job.

“The possibility of any kind of award was the last thing on my mind when I started working on the article. I had only the vaguest idea of what I wanted it to be and what seemed like a mountain of information and groundwork to do, but even so, I just wanted to make sure that whatever I finished with reflected the highest standard journalism I could possibly deliver,” she said.

“The article turned out to take an unusual approach, which, although it picked at the fabric of contemporary issues, didn’t hang on any current ‘hot’ topic, so I was deeply honoured when The Weekend Australian Magazine took it on.”

The judging panel said Taylor’s article was “an original and compassionate idea, excellently researched, that shone a light on how we treat the most marginal in society”.

Associate Professor Phil Chubb praised Taylor’s work.

“Having our masters students shortlisted for this major award was a testament to the strength of  our program. Having Jenan win feels like a terrific vindication of our efforts and direction,” he said.

“More importantly, this prize is a life-changer for Jenan, who had a great idea for a piece of feature journalism and then worked hard to bring it off brilliantly.”

Monash Investigative Journalism lecturer Bill Birnbauer said Taylor was a worthy winner.

“Jenan’s story was one of the most original, crafted and touching stories I have read in a long time,” he said.

“Monash journalism’s students repeatedly win the industry’s top journalism awards because we teach them the fundamental basic skills of news breaking, feature writing and digital production and imbue in them a questioning and determined attitude to get to the unvarnished truth. They do the rest themselves.

He also praised the work of former Monash student Monique Hore who partnered with one of Australia’s best reporters, Herald Sun senior journalist Ruth Lamperd, to expose the disturbing reality of asbestos contamination around Sunshine’s “factory of death”.

The pair won the Quill for Best Coverage Of An Issue Or Event.

Hope said receiving the Quill Award alongside Lamperd was a huge honour.
“I enjoyed working with the residents of Sunshine North to raise important health questions. As a young journalist, it was also brilliant to work with someone so experienced as Ruth.”

Also on the shortlist for the student  journalism award was  fellow honours student Tiffany Korssen, whose article Suicide Survivors Left in the Lurch – published on mojonews.com.au last year – investigated the lack of support from hospitals and psychiatrists for suicide survivors.

The judging panel – ABC Victoria news editor Shane Castleman, Fairfax Radio national news director Rob Curtain, Sunday Age editor Duska Sulicich and Nick Richardson from the Herald Sun – described Korssen’s feature as “a revelation into the lack of treatment and care available for suicide survivors that captured the personal experiences of those concerned”.

The awards were announced on Friday, March 20. The prize includes $3000, a two-week internship at a major media outlet, and a day at four other media outlets.

Previous Monash students to win the award include Jenny Denton, in 2010.